7 January 2016
The Courier (p.3)

The future of a Dundee University lecturer’s controversial taxpayer-funded art project is unclear following confusion over the cash hand-out.

Ellie Harrison has been granted £15,000 by Creative Scotland to live and remain in Glasgow for a year, examining the effects this would have on her artistic career and well-being.

The 36-year-old claimed she would donate her grant to Dundee University in exchange for a year’s paid leave to allow her to complete the project.

Ms Harrison said the money would go toward hiring a lecturer to replace her, while she would continue to receive her salary of £25,484.01.

Dundee University initially said they had accepted the proposal, but Creative Scotland has since confirmed such an outcome would go against the rules of the Open Project Funding.

The university is in talks with Ms Harrison and it is unclear whether the lecturer will be given paid leave, or what the £15,000 will be spent on.

A Creative Scotland spokeswoman told The Courier that, contrary to Ms Harrison’s claims, the grant was intended to be used by the artist and would not be paid to Duncan of Jordanstone.

“Creative Scotland can confirm that the £15,000 funding that was awarded to Ellie Harrison for the project, originally titled Think Global, Act Local!, through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund was to support the artist in her work on this project and the development of her creative practice,” she said.

“The funds will not be paid to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design to cover the costs of her teaching post.”

Ms Harrison has faced a furious backlash since details of the project – the name of which she later changed to The Glasgow Effect – became public.

The artist has been accused of “exploiting poverty” and “mocking the city”, due to the title, which refers to the poor health and low life expectancy of residents of Glasgow.

Critics have also claimed that Ms Harrison is using public funds to “have a sabbatical” and that “no actual artwork will be created” as part of the project.

Ms Harrison has posted a copy of her application to Creative Scotland on the project’s blog in a bid to justify the £15,000 grant.

A Dundee University spokesman said: “Our agreement with Ms Harrison to free her time for the project has been predicated on costs being provided to cover her teaching time at the university.

“We are now in discussions with Ms Harrison in an effort to find a resolution.”

Despite repeated attempts by The Courier to contact Ms Harrison by phone, email and in person, she could not be reached.

Answers came there none

The cacophonous fury surrounding Ellie Harrison’s ‘durational performance’ is in stark contrast to the leafy crescent in one of the plushest areas of Glasgow’s West End the ‘action research project’ will call home for the next year, writes Graeme Ogston.

She may be keen to embrace the community but one local opportunity the artist wasn’t up for was speaking to The Courier.

We hoped to quiz Ms Harrison about the reaction to staying put in the city you call home and getting paid for the pleasure.

There was a promising start as a ring at the buzzer of the first-floor townhouse flat was met with a “hello”.

However, after I introduced myself there was no further response.

To be fair, accusations from local residents of a ‘poverty safari’ are probably wide of the mark.

If Harrison’s Glasgow Effect was being conducted from Cranhill or Shettleston, where not being able to travel outside the city is just a fact of life for many, I might agree.

Many Tayside and Fife artists also don’t have the luxury of the “demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist/academic” referred to in the project’s grand mission statement.

But judging by the heated local reaction, not leaving Glasgow might actually be something of a challenge for Ms Harrison after all.

Nadia Vidinova